When I read the recent article "Don't Order For Me And Don't Take That Call! Nine In Ten Woman Would Turn Down A Second Date Because Of Bad Table Manners," I chuckled to myself because it so reminded me of the first time I went to dinner with the man who is now my husband.
I had just started dating again after my divorce. (I should probably preface this story by telling you that he is, ahem, slightly younger than me.) We went out to dinner and the minute we sat down, he started looking at his phone. I wondered, "What is that about, is he bored? Or just rude? Or maybe it is a generational thing? Is that what all the kids are doing these days?" Whatever it was, I found it really irritating. Had I been younger when I met him, I might have fumed quietly the whole night and then made up an excuse if he asked me out again. And complained about him to my girlfriends, of course.
But I wasn't young; I was a thirty-seven-year old woman who had just ended a 17-year relationship, during which I learned a thing or two about communication, or more specifically, how destructive the lack of it can be. This guy seemed to have potential, but I needed to be sure. I decided to be direct and say something. I don't remember exactly what I said, but I'm sure I expressed myself very eloquently. The other night I asked my husband if he remembered that conversation. According to him I said, "Hey can you not do that? It's distracting and we aren't connecting." Ok, maybe not terribly poignant. But the point is, I said something.
When I asked my husband what he thought at the time, he said he was "shocked at your forthrightness, impressed by it too, and I had a moment of clarity where I realized, 'She's absolutely right.'" To his credit, he put the phone away, and to this day, he tries really hard to be present when we are sitting at the dinner table. Life after divorce brings many new experiences and wonderful opportunities. Dating, especially, can be fun. You've learned your lessons, you know what you will and won't put up with, and you get to experience that first date (and first kiss!) thrill all over again. You can be adventurous, you can try on your new self, and most importantly, you get to be choosy!
Next time around, keep these 3 things in mind:
- Don't be quick to judge on the first date. Observe carefully, but keep an open mind.
- If something about his behavior bothers you, say something directly and honestly. Don't pick a fight or nag, simply tell him how your feel and give him a chance to correct the behavior.
- If he doesn't stop (or start) doing what you've asked him to do, then move on. Anyone who has been divorced will tell you that those little slightly irritating things he does now (that you convince yourself are endearing) will only turn into giant three headed monsters later. Take this chance and avoid that fodder for future arguments.
Divorce is really hard, but life after divorce is a beautiful opportunity to fill your life with people who will enhance and enrich your life. Don't miss the chance to get to know someone spectacular because he makes an early tactical error. Nine in ten woman would turn down the second date? Don't be so hasty, ladies! You might miss out on someone marvelous.
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